AgencyNew Delhi: Sumit Rathi’s 78th minute strike earned India U-19 national team a 1-0 win against hosts Vanuatu in their opening fixture of the OFC Developmental Tournament in Port Villa on Sunday. Coach Floyd Pinto opted to field four defenders at the back while Aman Chetri was put upfront in the attacking third in the match played at the Korman Stadium. Chetri rattled the crossbar in the third minute of the match and off the rebound, he took another valiant attempt from close range but the opponent goalkeeper parried with it safely. Givson was mostly operating as a free agent in the middle of the park while Vikram Partap Singh was gunning from the right flank. Vikram and Givson kept the Vanuatu defenders on their toes but the hosts somehow managed to keep a clean sheet until the end of the first half. After the breather, India earned back-to-back corners in quick succession but to no avail. Coach Pinto, having put in Gurkirat Singh at the expense of Aman Chetri, tweaked in his strategy in their pursuit of the elusive goal. Givson, on 73 minutes, tried his luck from 40 yards out only to see his shot sail over the crossbar. Five minutes later, India finally got the breakthrough from what was India’s fourth corner of the day. Givson took a short corner and Ninthoi, on receiving the same, rolled it to Vikram before reaching Sumit Rathi whose shot found the back of the net eventually. The Vanuatu boys switched the gear towards the end in their quest for the equaliser but the Indian defenders, along with goalie Prabhsukhan Gill who was donning the captain’s armband, made sure India leave the pitch with all three points. India will face New Caledonia in next fixture on Wednesday.
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